Before I dive into this newsletter, I don’t want anyone to misunderstand me. I do not support an American military response if Russia invades Ukraine, and I do not support making a military security guarantee to Ukraine outside of its potential future admission to NATO. I do believe the United States should take urgent action short of war to attempt to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the event of war, the United States should provide arms and other support to help Ukraine maintain as much of its territorial integrity and independence as possible.
It’s important, however, to state why I believe America should attempt to aggressively deter Russia rather than merely sit back and meekly allow Putin to invade, dominate, and potentially annex significant parts of Ukrainian territory. And while part of that case is idealistic—rooted in concern for the human rights of Ukrainian citizens and their right to self-determination—part of it is also deeply pragmatic. It is bad for America if Ukraine falls.
An odd coalition of left-wing and right-wing American voices seems to disagree. On the right, Tucker Carlson has been particularly aggressive. In a series of segments on his top-rated cable news program, he has defended Russia’s interests in Ukraine, declared that NATO exists “primarily to torment Vladimir Putin,” and openly questioned why we’re not on “Russia’s side.”
In a recent monologue, Carlson repeated the themes of apologists for Russian and Soviet aggression for generations—Russia’s aggression is really defensive. “He just wants to keep his western borders secure.”